Humanities professors earn tenure
After an almost year-long process, Assistant Professor of History John Turner, Associate Professor of Education Adam Howard and Assistant Professor of American Studies and Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies Lisa Arellano have earned tenure positions at the College.
Dean of Faculty Lori Kletzer said that the three professors demonstrated “exceptional teaching,” scholarship and service, the three areas in which professors must excel to achieve tenure.
Although there are no quantitative guidelines to measure a professor for tenure, Kletzer attested that, “It’s a pretty exhaustive process.”
Turner said that the tenure process is “kind of like applying to college…. You have this sense [that] you did what you could, but is it enough?” He received the call at home on a Friday while he and his wife were with their children. Turner heard something like, “Welcome to the tenure faculty,” he recalled. “It feels pretty fantastic…. Right now, I’m in the glow of loving [the College].”
Howard said, “In a professor’s career, there’s the very important moments,” listing earning a Ph. D, defending your dissertation, your first job and, finally, achieving tenure. He said that there was a lot of work, build-up and stress surrounding the tenure process and that was “quite emotional.” Once he heard that he had earned tenure, Howard said, “That’s all I could really hear or comprehend….I really wanted to stay here.”
After hearing the news of their tenure, Arellano said, “I texted Adam….John texted me” and the three professors communicated the news of their success. Throughout the process, Arellano heard from former students who pointed out the ways in which she had helped them, including the little things that she didn’t actually remember. “Students were really sweet to me....People are sort of wonderful to you about [earning tenure],” she said.
In discussing the pros and cons of tenure, Kletzer said that although tenure lowers the professor’s accountability, she doesn’t “find the absence of accountability to be a problem” at the College. Kletzer said that tenure’s “foundation is always said to be an assurance of academic freedom—what and how you study can never threaten your job.”
Throughout the process, professors are assessed first and foremost on their teaching skills, followed by scholarship and finally their service to the College. Students, fellow professors, objective experts, the professor’s department, the tenure board, the Board of Trustees and the president of the College all contribute to the process.
Of the College’s tenure-track professors—those that have been considered for tenure— 72 percent have achieved tenure Kletzer said.
These three additions to the tenured faculty have extensive plans and projects in mind for the future. Turner’s first book, concerning heresy in the Middle East, will be coming out in November, and he is in the process of writing a second book. He is also diligently working on two articles right now, one to be presented in England in July and the other in Berlin in September.
Howard will be going on sabbatical during the 2012-13 academic year, and will be doing a great deal of traveling. He will be visiting Italy to earn his first certification as a chef, Australia to collaborate on a global ethnography of elite schools and Malaysia to finish his studies on the identity development of privileged youth.
In addition to a book she is finishing, Arellano is beginning to write another about gender violence. She is excited about the possibilities for both of her departments, as there will be a new faculty member in Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies and a curriculum stuff for American Studies.
Kletzer said that the announcement of the newly tenured professors is “a great thing to celebrate.”